Remember, remember the fifth of November…but why?
I’d be willing to wager that by now you’ve probably already seen that mustachioed mask on your Facebook timeline, as well as the beginnings of some limerick. You might also have noticed on Twitter an uptick in the visibility of the group Anonymous, which uses the Guy Fawkes mask as a symbol of their organization. Now you might even be asking yourself who Guy Fawkes is!
The 5th of November looks, on our Americanized calendars, like just another day, but to the English it holds pretty significant historical weight. Guy Fawkes became historically significant when, in 1605, he joined a group of English Catholics and attempted to carry out what is now known as the Gunpowder Plot, where he had planned to blow up the House of Lords, and ultimately assassinate the very Protestant King James. The plot failed when Fawkes was discovered in the act by Thomas Knyvett, after an anonymous letter was sent ruining Fawkes and the Catholic Coalition’s plan. Fawkes was taken to the Tower of London where he was tortured until he gave up his fellow conspirators, he was tortured, and on January 31st, 1606, Fawkes and three others were hung and quartered for their treason, as parts of his dismembered body was divided up to take to “the four corners of the kingdom” as a warning to others who might dare stand against the Crown.
Citizens of London were encouraged to celebrate the 5th of November by lighting fires and fireworks in celebration of the monarch’s safety.
A line of a poem, commonly attributed to the celebration’s Gunpowder Plot sermons, is also heavily tied to the celebration of Guy Fawkes Day. It is:Remember, remember the fifth of November, the gunpowder, treason and plot, I know of no reason Why gunpowder treason Should ever be forgot
The holiday had a resurgence of sorts with the comic series, and subsequent film, V for Vendetta, which follows it’s protagonist named V in a dystopian society, who dresses in a Guy Fawkes mask and elaborately and theatrically seeks justice against the fascist party the controls the world. Natalie Portman and Hugo Weaving starred in the Wachowski siblings 2006 film adaptation.
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